So the draw’s been made for next year’s provincial championships, giving us a bit of clarity about the shape of early summer for us next year. Not a bad shape either, you’d have to say.
It’s not an ultra-easy draw for us or anything. For the sixth year in a row we’ve been handed the task of beating both Roscommon and Galway in order to get our hands on the Nestor Cup.
But at least on this occasion we’re not pitted directly against Galway. In 2019 we can only meet them in the final, which, if that happens, will be our first Connacht decider against the Tribesmen since 2014.
That, of course, was James Horan’s final year in charge first time round. It was also the last time we played over in New York, following which we faced Roscommon in the semi-final. So next year could have a back to the future feel for us in more ways than one.
Overall, you’d have to say this is a good draw for us. Roscommon – assuming they get by Leitrim and we account for the Yanks – will provide a strong challenge in the semi-final and, as a fellow Division One outfit, that’s a challenge we cannot afford to be in any way blasé about.
That said, you’d have to think a semi-final against them at MacHale Park would be a winnable tie. After all, the most recent time the Rossies beat us in the championship was way back in 2001 and even though they’ve performed better in Connacht than we have of late, we’d always fancy our chances playing them.
If we get over that particular hurdle we should be well set for Galway in the final. I know this assumes they make it through the other side but, faced as they are with the might of London and Sligo, I think it’s a reasonable assumption to conclude that they will.
I know we’re jumping ahead a bit here but if a Mayo/Galway final does materialise it will mean a first appearance for a Mayo team led by James Horan at Pearse Stadium since the carnage we inflicted on them at that venue in 2013. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d certainly be up for a bit of that kind of back to the future next year.
Speaking of James Horan, Rob Murphy and I had the honour of sitting down with the manager for a chat at the media event that was held last night at the Greenway Café in Lough Lannagh Village, a veritable stone’s throw away from where the planned Mayo GAA Centre of Excellence will be located. That discussion will form the centrepiece of a bonus episode of the Mayo News football podcast – the third episode this week: you lot are really pushing your luck at this stage – which will be online shortly. That’s one not to be missed.